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Acid for the Children: A Memoir

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  10,890 ratings  ·  1,125 reviews
The iconic bassist and co-founder of the Red Hot Chili Peppers tells his fascinating origin story, complete with all the dizzying highs and the gutter lows you'd want from an LA street rat turned world famous rock star.

Michael Peter Balzary was born in Melbourne, Australia, on October 16, 1962. His more famous stage name, Flea, and his wild ride as the renowned bass player
Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published November 27th 2018 by Grand Central Publishing
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Emma S. I think flea says it best himself....

"No explicit art ever hurt me"

This book is marvelous, and shows a real insight into what life is like being Fle…more
I think flea says it best himself....

"No explicit art ever hurt me"

This book is marvelous, and shows a real insight into what life is like being Flea. I think that to deprive someone of this story based on something like "inappropriate" language is a tragedy. (less)
Jason Hart In an interview with CBS This Morning in November 2019 (, Flea was asked this question. He said he was busy touring, rais…moreIn an interview with CBS This Morning in November 2019 (, Flea was asked this question. He said he was busy touring, raising kids, etc. so probably not anytime soon but that he did like writing. With the state of the world these days though, he may have some free time on his hands to devote to volume 2...(less)
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Flea refers to this as his origin story. It begins with his parents and ends just before RHCP. Unsurprisingly, he’s a gifted story teller. And this is a must on audio! His narration is fantastic and quirky. Flea is way more than a genital sock donning bass player, he’s a massive reader, devout Vonnegut fan, and a quality human. I wish to be his friend. I sincerely hope he writes a follow up.

Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
I am a Chili Peppers fan, and Flea has always been an intriguing person, so when I learned he was writing an autobiography, I definitely wanted to read it! Flea’s life begins differently than you would expect: calm and typical, until his parents split. It’s then that his mom’s new boyfriend exposes him to music, musicians, and a bohemian lifestyle, which inspires him to get into music, too. Acid for the Children is a wild ride. There’s coming-of-age, insight, and entertainment from beginning to ...more
The Nerd Daily
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Beth Mowbray

Michael Balzary. You probably know him as Flea, bassist and co-founder of the iconic band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Observing him in the public eye, playing intensely energetic rock shows for over three and a half decades, one may think Flea is just your typical “rock star” – an over-the-top persona. However, after reading his memoir, it is clear this would be a monumental misrepresentation and oversimplification of a quite complex huma
Derek Hoeksema
It felt like he was holding me down and forcing me to listen to something that he thought was profound.
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is yikes city. Flea waxes poetically about all kinds of vibing with the sound, connecting with the Earth etc since he was a kid, but in a very ‘first grader who is enlightened’ vocabulary. Isnt this man sixtyish by now? Some of the book I’ve found to be endearing, but most of it is unfortunately pure gibberish - and I say this as someone who loves him and the RHCP.
He is an inconsistent writer, finishing chapters and stories in weird sudden halts, meanwhile somehow managing to remember
For the most part I enjoyed Flea's memoir. If you're looking for the story of the RHCP, you won't find it here. This is about his life pre RHCP. It's nice to read about a man who had a tough childhood and then goes on to become extremely successful using his own natural talent, eventually becoming a happy man.

I did feel the book was a bit disjointed at times. I had a bit of trouble following the timeline, or maybe there really wasn't a timeline? At times I felt some of his descriptions were ove
Ben Leiter
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What Is It: Considering he's been naked on magazine covers and played concerts while wearing nothing but a sock on his junk, exposure is not something Flea fears. However, his new memoir Acid for the Children is less about the Red Hot Chili Pepper's bassist getting physically naked (although he does that a few times in the book) and more about him getting emotionally naked. Michael Peter Balzary was born in Australia to a strict father and a bohemian mother. When he was four, his parents divorce ...more
Nick Craske
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As open, honest and expressive as his musicianship, Flea evokes the euphoric chaos of discovering music; exploring drugs and growing up fast in LA. Psychedelic, Punk'n'funkadelic. Flea channels Vonnegut and Bukowski, Byron and Eliot in his writing and writes about his youth up to the moment he steps on stage and first plays with Anthony Kiedis. ...more
Bon Tom
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply the best rocker biography I've ever read.
The right way to ingest this is audio form, read by man himself.
Reading in any other form, you're cutting yourself short.
His warm, involved, emotional voice carries as much information as words themselves.

Yes, he jumps a little around, chronologically, just as he does physically on stage, but I
guess it's just the way he is. He seems to be spur of the moment type of guy and it just comes with the territory.

The bio is brutally honest, down to the p
[I got an ARC via a goodreads giveaway]
This definitely was not what I was expecting from a rock ’n’ roll hall of famer. It is an unusually self-aware, non-self serving autobiography. Instead of regaling you with romanticized stories of sex, drugs, and alcohol Flea lets you into his mind as he dealt with his very dysfunctional family (severe emotional neglect among other issues) from when he ran the streets as a child to using hard drugs to show what really happens in the head of many musicians.
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Long after I’m dead, no doubt, someone will erect a statue of Flea in West Hollywood. He’ll be slapping that bass in mid-flight, wild-eyed, legs spread, his pants half-way down his ass, and with such a look of joy on his face that it will become a place of pilgrimage for young and old alike.

Even those benighted folks who have never even heard of the Red Hot Chili Peppers will visit this shrine to be inspired and blessed by the radiant transcendence that is Flea. Devotees will climb up to touch t
Michele Gardiner
I whipped right through this. Michael Balzary (Flea) is a former client in my audio business, so I knew he had a love of esoteric jazz, and that he is a deep, thoughtful man.

Here are some of my thoughts about his book:

1) Flea's chapters are short and to the point. It's a format I enjoy. Don't tell me ever freaking boring thing. What mattered? What's compelling?

2) Interesting, we both had major life-changing experiences in the late '60s. He refers to his suburban days as "normal life," as I did
Beth M.
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have to admit, I knew very little about Flea - bassist for the iconic band Red Hot Chili Peppers - before reading this book. Of course I grew up listening to their music. I remember skating around outside, free as a bird, to the tune of “Aeroplane.” Driving around in my first car with the Californication album blaring. And perhaps a performance or two with the guys wearing some strategically placed socks. 😝 But I knew nothing about his life story.

In Acid for the Children Flea shares, in great
Feb 21, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I reluctantly, and very sadly put this book down about 2/3 the way through....

PROS: he breaks the mold in a lot of ways of what you would think a bass playing rocker would be like. I loved his writing. He is incredibly smart, sensitive and well read. I loved that he wrote with all his heart and it comes through. I loved his story and his complete honestly and amazing self awareness that few have. He’s never bitter although he could be. His longing for family and connection was so obvious it made
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I truly enjoyed this book so much. Flea is a natural at writing and his words are poetic and raw. I love the insight this book gave me into one of my favorite musicians! This book was a fun trip down memory lane into the 1970s LA street scene. Even if you’re not a huge RHCP fan, I think you’ll enjoy this book.
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love Red Hot Chili Peppers ..... I enjoyed Flea’s story from childhood to adulthood..... I must say I’m surprised he made it to adulthood with all the drugs he pumped into his system.
Ashley Daviau
Oct 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was absolutely everything I hoped it would be and more. It was just so FLEA. There’s really no other way to put it honestly because this book is written exactly how I imagine Flea would talk and it’s so perfect. It made me feel like I was sitting down, smoking a joint with him and trading life stories. It manages to capture the essence of the crazy and whimsical Flea we all know and love so well from RHCP so perfectly. Now if you’re expecting an accounting of RHCP’s career then you’ll ...more
Armand Rosamilia
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spoiler alert: this dude smoked a lot of weed. His insights into life are intriguing, odd, oftentimes confusing, but definitely entertaining.

If you're a huge RHCP fan but only looking for insight into the band itself, this will disappoint. It takes you from his earliest memories right up until the RHCP idea is formed.
Not at all what I expected, which is why it's brilliant. Flea gives you all of his best, and what a funky fresh reveal it is. Seriously enjoyed. ...more
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Poetic, hilarious, unexpectedly wholesome at times. I hope he writes more books, in general, as his particular turn of phrase is hard to put down. Brilliant.
Catherine Woodward
3.5 ⭐️

Okay, so a few things...

-An origin story of RHCP this is not. If you're looking for that, I would guess you can probably find it elsewhere. (Perhaps in Scar Tissue? Not sure, haven't read that yet) The band is hardly mentioned at all until 80%ish.
-Flea has done a LOT of drugs. A LOT. More than I would have anticipated, which is surprising. But one chapter in particular was so graphic in its description of taking a certain drug that it almost turned my stomach. Just a fair warning, this one
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned

Ok so Flea is a great author? Did not see that one coming. Prejudice on my part, and sometimes it's so much fun to be confronted with your own prejudice. He has a great way with words – some bits are read-out-loud-pretty – and tells his story candidly, without shying away from his own selfishness and wrongness, mistakes everyone makes when young.

I did have the problem I always have with memoirs, which is that I always think the obligatory drugs bit starts dragging real bad real fast for me.
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, music
the most wonderful of books. genuinely can’t remember the last time i read something that moved me so much. great for fans of music and people interested in la in the 80s and how drugs can do a lot of bad shit and also anyone interested in what its like to be an artist and anyone interested in the human conditions. waaaaaaaaah.
Марија Николовска
Dnf-ed this one so hard, stopped @ 70%.
I could not possibly get into it and I really did not care about the stories. I still love RHCP's music and I respect this wonderful man but this book really didn't do it for me.
Maybe I will come back to it one day but not anytime soon.
Five surprising stars!
It turns out Flea is a most unexpectedly engaging writer.
Truly eloquent, yet profane. Sharp, intelligent and insightful, while also having done many terribly (admittedly) stupid things.
Just as Flea writes about his relationship with Anthony Kiedis, "Our friendship is complicated and many layered.. the blatant intense duality.. a study in contradictions.." Flea is many layered, intense, and all kinds of (often beautiful) contradictions.

Until now, I had little-to-no knowled
May 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Admittedly, I was about two-thirds of the way through this when I realized it definitely wasn't going to cover anything RHCP-related. This is volume 1 of, presumably, at least 2, although I haven't heard anything about a follow-up.

Flea, like Anthony Kiedis, lived a tumultuous childhood and adolescence, to the extent that no embellishment (or, fortunately, professional book-writing experience) is necessary to convey the weirdness and wildness of his early days. I was audibly repulsed reading abou
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Acid for the Children: A Memoir by Flea
Flea is the bassist and co-founder of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and this is his origin story.
Who knew that Mike Balzary known world wide as Flea, would be such a brilliant writer, he's open, honest and sometimes poetic, he's a deep and thoughtful man who is not afraid to own his own truth.
He’s a wild and crazy guy, but with a very kind heart to rival those other traits. Stories of drug-fueled debauchery are there, but certainly not glamorized, simply left t
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Never have a read a memoir before where the spirit and sheer truism of the author bubbles up to the surface. Did it help that I've been a mega RHCP fan for decades? Probably, but it doesn't take away from the introspective beauty of this novel.
Acid for the Children was not written "with" someone, these are Flea's words-excitable, jazzy, regretful, disarming, and writhing away in his biological bass zone. I loved that the prose were as off-centered and as wildly unpredictable as the author himsel
Jul 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars.
This wasn't quite what I expected, bad language, sex and drugs yes but I didn't expect the level of emotion expressed. The audiobook really helps capture this. There are times that were emotional to listen to, where he struggles with his raw emotion.
While I did enjoy it , I found it hard to follow in some places and felt it didnt always flow as well as it could.
I do have a slight niggle on how in depth the drug use descriptions were, I felt some of the technical descriptions were unne
MCZ Reads
2.5 stars

Flea’s memoir of his childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood is anything but conventional. After all, you don’t do a ton of drugs and become the bassist of a renowned rock band by following tradition. But this unconventional approach, and a general lack of focus, derails this book from reaching its full potential.

Acid for the Children attempts to recount Flea’s development from a young child in a seemingly mild, conservative family into a twenty-something musician/actor. The first h
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Michael Peter Balzary, better known by his stage name Flea, is an Australian-born American musician and occasional actor. He is best known as the bassist, co-founding member, and one of the composers of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers with whom he was inducted in 2012 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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